Classroom Snapshot! Writing Part 3: Writing Conferences.

Hello all!  Today I wanted to write about Writing Conferences.  Now, if this seems a little out of order to you, you are not alone.  I really mulled over the order I wanted to do my Writer’s Workshop posts in and #3 was supposed to be about Writing Mini-lessons.  Here is why it is not:  
I have too many writing mini-lessons to put in one post!

So, my plan is to do the mini-lesson post last, then do periodic Mini-lesson posts as I teach them throughout the year.  Does that make sense?  

So, today I want to talk about Writing Conferences.  
I think that conducting writing conferences is the most difficult (but rewarding) part of teaching with the Workshop method.  It is also the most successful at meeting the needs of all of the budding authors in your class!  It is differentiation at it’s finest!
Where do I start?

I am the type to just kind of jump right in. Once the kiddos have had time to get used to our routine and build up their stamina I start doing Writing Conferences.   I do a mini-lesson where I show the kiddos what a writing conference looks and sounds like, then I start conferring that day!

I have the kiddo I am conferring with read me what they are writing.  While they are reading I am thinking of what we should start with as far as a goal goes.  I always start with a positive or two about what they are already doing well!
You have such a great picture!
What a good idea!
I can’t wait to hear more about…
I love the colors!
Your first sentence really makes me want to read more.

Then, I try to hone in on something that will help take the writer to the next level.  I base all of the kiddos goals on our 2 classroom goals:
1. My audience WANTS to read what I write.
2. My audience CAN read what I write.

Obviously I could write on and on about what types of conferences that I do. 
Here is how I organize and keep the kiddos on track.

I keep all of my conferring sheets in my writing notebook at the back.  Each kiddo has their own sheet.  When I fill up one, I get out another one.

I write down the date, title of the piece we confer about, I circle the goal W for Wants to read, C for Can read.  Then I write down any notes about the child’s writing.  I also ask the kiddos to rate themselves and I write down how they rate themselves and how I would rate them.  The next time I confer with that particular child, I read back over my notes so I know what I am looking for.  

I also give the kiddos a goal or “I CAN” sheet.
I write down for the kiddo what their goal is, what their strategy is and some suggestions for things that they can do to help meet the goal.
This one is a CAN goal.  Their strategy is to write at least 5 sentences each writer’s workshop (the audience has to have something to read).  The ways that they can have more things to write about are:
Label your picture.
Talk to a partner about your topic.

Then, the kiddos rate themselves on where they are with their goal that day.
Once they are at a 3 or 4 more than one time, we start on a new goal.  The kiddos declare their goals on our Writing Board with a sticky note.
As you can see my board is just getting started this year.  Then, I send them back to work on their goal.
Each Writer’s Workshop I remind the kiddos to work on their goal and during Turn and Talk, tell their partner what they are working on.  This helps them to remember and keeps them focused on their writing goal.
So far, so good.  I still have a few more kiddos to conference with before everyone has had their first conference.
Next step will be to do some small guided writing groups based on kiddos with similar goals.

How do you do writing conferences in your room?

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